Two cannibals are eating a clown and one of them says to the other, “Does this taste funny to you?”
When I set out to write something funny I never know it’s funny until other people laugh. This weekend I went to a writers’ group meeting and shared a piece I’d actually written two years ago. I felt like a fraud sharing something I wasn’t actively working on and had already put out for public consumption here, but I still wanted feedback from other writers about it. And, most importantly, I wanted to know if people thought it was funny.
They did. They laughed hardest at Oscar Wilde’s lines, which I expected, but the consensus was that the idea itself was funny, which I appreciated.
It was also a shot of confidence I needed because the next day I got this:
It wasn’t a hard rejection because I’d only submitted something very small to McSweeney’s Lists section, but a rejection is still a rejection. At least it confirmed what I’d suspected. I’ll still share it with you even though it’s not funny.
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Like your maître ‘d on Facebook, receive a coupon equal to the value of your gratuity
Update: Well at least this happened.
I have never been brave enough to send something to McSweeney’s. I have a piece on my hard drive that I think is right for them, but I can’t bring myself to do it. So, I’d frame that little ‘next time!’
BTW: I think Chaz is hysterical! Nice piece.
Submitting to McSweeney’s is helping me get over my fear of rejection. It’s not what I hope for–what I hope for is that they’ll publish my work and send me a big wad of cash. Also I’m not sure where else to submit things I’ve written. I should probably look around some.
And I’m glad you liked the piece. You’re the first person–other than me–to like Chaz which says a lot about how subjective these things can be.
It IS funny, Chris. That tastes funny to me that McSweeney’s List rejected it. Thanks for sharing your funny self with us.
I’m glad I always have this place to share my funny self even if I get turned away everywhere else. Knowing that you found it funny makes me feel better.
Just because something’s not right for a publication on a given day doesn’t make it not funny!
I should print that and stick it to my forehead. Wait, I’ll never see it there. I’ll stick it to my wall.
I thought that both pieces were great, and I’m so glad to hear you went to a writers’ group! Will this be an ongoing activity? Also, do you always aim so high when you submit your writing?
The writers’ group is an ongoing activity–this was just the latest meeting of several. It’s a great group and I get honest, intelligent feedback that’s also face-to-face, unlike here where I get honest, intelligent feedback online. (Yes, I am so hooked on comments I will resort to base flattery.)
Anyway I don’t always aim so high but I also don’t know where else I should submit my work. I should probably look around. Surely there are other places that are doing the kind of thing I do, whatever it is.
Well, for the record,I think you’re hilarious! Even today I laughed when reading your comment on my post and you mentioned the difference between pizza made out of paper, and real pizza. (Actually, I thought that was kind of ironic. When I was a kid I made a pizza entirely out of construction paper–pepperoni, olives, peppers, the whole thing–and then I ate every last bit of it. I guess it never occurred to me that construction paper doesn’t taste good. Anyway, McSweeney’s! Ooh, how I love some McSweeney. I think it takes guts to put your work out there like that. Rejection is so, so, so, so common. As you know, I did that writer’s course. And, they spent a LOT of time telling us that it’s so very hard to be published. We were encouraged to write purely for the love of writing and to have THAT be the end goal, rather than publication. (Yeah, right. We all wanted to be published and instant bestsellers and go on literary tours across Europe.) But, the point was somewhat taken. It’s a very, very competitive ‘business.’ Just keep trying. You’ve got the talent. Keep knocking on those doors!
I’m so glad you think I’m funny, especially since your story about making a construction paper pizza and eating it has me laughing out loud. And, you’re right, publishing is a very competitive business. And lots of successful writers dealt with rejection time and again. I’m sure at some point there was a letter that read, “Dear Bill-Thank you for the submission but we just don’t find the idea of a Danish prince taking that long to kill his murderous uncle plausible. Thanks. -Globe Management”
I’m going to keep working at it and maybe someday I’ll get what I’ve always wanted: a published book. And maybe I’ll even get the next thing I’ve always wanted: a book tour.
And on the bright side I’m pretty sure I’ll never have a book signing at Costco so I won’t have to grapple with the question of whether that’s awesome or humiliating.
Well, it made me laugh out loud–especially the last one about liking your maitre d on Facebook. They were crazy not to take it. Don’t be afraid of rejection. As you know, I just found out my novel is being published, but it was rejected more than once over the last three years by publishers who were very kind but who said it “didn’t meet their editorial needs”. I don’t actually know what that means, other than NO. So keep sending your work out there–it’s brilliant and someone will want to publish it.
Maybe “didn’t meet our editorial needs” meant they liked your book but had published something similar so recently they didn’t want to release competing titles. Or maybe we both just happened to hit editors on bad days. I’ve heard both editors and critics admit that they’ve misjudged good things sometimes–a brave admission from someone whose job it is to judge.
I really appreciate the shot of confidence and I will keep on submitting. What’s the worst that could happen? This post has helped me turn rejection’s lemons into lemonade.
At least you tried McSweeney’s…and they’re dumb, cause this is funny.
That makes me so happy I’m giddy. And maybe I just got the wrong editor on a bad day. That’s what I’m going to tell myself.
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